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Guy Clark: Workbench Songs


Songwriter Guy Clark has been making memorable music for more than 35 years. His latest album, Workbench Songs, was released late last year, and nominated for a 2007 Grammy award for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album.

Clark's music career started when he was just 16. His real breakthrough came in the early '70s when Jerry Jeff Walker recorded Clark's "LA Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train," which was released on Walker's 1973 Viva Terlingua! and has since been recorded no fewer than 10 times.

Like those two songs, the tunes on Workbench are evidence of Clark's ability to tell a story through song--as in "Out in the Parkin' Lot." When he sings, "You can hear the band playing right through the wall / Ain't no cover charge / Ain't no last call / Out in the parkin' lot," it's almost like you're there with him.

In "No Lonesome Tune," Clark closes the chorus with a great line: "Your lost high roller's rollin' home today." The track "Analog Girl" is a tribute to someone who will "have none of that virtual fun" because, "She's a real deal ol' fashioned analog girl / In a digital world." In "Funny Bone," Clark tells a story of love and loss on the rodeo circuit. The song ends with a "pretty good rodeo clown" suffering because his gal ran off with a young bull rider and he's left with a "broken funny bone."

Maybe Clark's own funny bone was broken after his career didn't go the way he'd planned in the '80s, but that's not the case now. Verlon Thompson, who helps on this album, is credited with getting Clark back into recording in the early '90s and has been a part of nearly all Clark's efforts since. Thompson is a talented musician in his own right and joins Clark on Workbench as co-writer (for many of the tracks). He adds guitar, harmonica and vocals, too.

Clark's fellow musicians, and the music industry alike, have recognized his abilities. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Foundation's Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004, honored with the Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting in 2005 and earned the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's prestigious Artist-In-Residence award in 2006.

If you're unfamiliar with Clark's musical magic, it's not too late. Pick up a copy of Workbench Songs and join the ranks of people who know what a musical master he really is.

--Curt Nichols